Life catches up to everyone. We all get into the same monotonous pattern day after day. It seems that life here in Saudi can become even more monotonous than even in the U.S.
I have been driving now for over a month. Driving is not as bad as what people make it out to be. Sure, the drivers here are more careless than in the rule filled US, but as long as you balance your defensive/offensive driving, you’ll be fine.
There are roundabouts here, which I though I would hate. Actually, I am not sure why more US cities do not have roundabouts. They keep the flow of traffic moving rather nicely. I guess it is our rebellion from England despite the fact that we had been an independent nation for over 100 years after cars were invented.
I have been playing in a basketball league at Aramco. Aramco is the company that controls the oil here in Saudi Arabia. Way back when the first dug here, they brought in US and other western engineers to run their oil business. They built this enormous compound (about 12,000 people) that is heavily guarded. They have actual grass, even a very nice grass golf course on their compound. There are schools, grocery stores, government building, office building, parks, softball fields, gymnasiums, and plenty of swimming pools there.
You have to know someone to get onto Aramco. You drive to the gate, tell them why you are there, then go to another parking lot and gate and check in with your drivers license, Iqama (green card), and car registration card. People riding with you only have to present their Iqama or passport. The guard then calls the number of the person who you know at Aramco. This person has to be at their home number (no cell phones). The guy lets then prints up all names of people wanting in ALWAYS misspelling the names. It is actually quite funny.
You pass through the gate and drive where you need to go. I have been going for a basketball league and once per week for Ultimate Frisbee. I will also go in the Spring for softball. It keeps my week pretty busy.
Jamie is in Kenya for the week. I am hoping that she will blog about it when she returns.
We are still playing Settlers of Catan every Friday and sometimes through the week. A new game introduced by a friend was Dominion, a strategy card game which has caught on. Darts has also been a hot game to play.
This week, I was finally able to put up some picture frames around the house. What is funny about that is that there are not any actual pictures in them. We’ll get to that later when I have time to go print some. We have a color printer, but I worry about the quality when I print them.
I have been pulling some long days by going in early and then tutoring right after school. Tutoring is something that many people do here. It is usually for just 1 hour for how many ever days you want. I do 4 days per week, which is quite a bit, but the money is outstanding. Jamie and live off my tutoring money alone. It was a pleasant surprise that we were able to do that.
Finally received a bank account and my ATM card. I now have my check direct deposited so I do not have to go sit at that evil Saudi Hollandi bank any more. I now sit at a probably just as evil Sabb bank for any banking needs. Banks usually on have about 2 tellers and only one of them will actually do any work. You have to get a number and wait for the 1 teller to go through all of the people. I have not been in a bank for less than 45 minutes. This is just to cash a check. Crazy.
School here is as busy as anywhere. The school offers a ton of things for the kids to do. This week, it was Book Fair. Nice selection as the student order the books, then they bring them in from Bahrain. Only takes about 2 weeks from what they tell me. I ordered a Dr. Seuss book I had never heard of called Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? I also ordered those Brain Quest trivia questions and an Italian cookbook.
All for now. I’ll try and talk Jamie into posting sometime about her Habitat for Humanity Kenya trip. Interestingly, she is sleeping in the Southern Hemisphere and working in the Northern Hemisphere. I think yesterday she went on a Safari – cool!
I’ll try and take pictures in the next couple of weeks. It won’t be much to look at, but it might give you an idea of where we live.